THE long-awaited devolution of critical powers from the Federal Government to the states appears imminent with the current effort at amending the much-criticised 1999 Constitution, a legal luminary, Chief Niyi Akintola SAN has said.
Akintola made the disclosure in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, on Saturday, during an interview on a privately owned radio station, Fresh FM.
The senior lawyer, who is a lead consultant to the National Assembly on the ongoing constitution review exercise, also said opinion across the country is overwhelmingly in favour of the formation of state police.
He disclosed that 98 per cent of the memoranda submitted to the constitution review committee from across the six geopolitical zones supported state police, a development he attributed to the effect of the security challenges across the country.
Akintola, who is a governorship aspirant under the banner of APC in Oyo State, said by the time the constitution amendment exercise is concluded, the 68 awesome powers donated to the occupier of the office the president in Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the constitution on the Exclusive Legislative List may come down to 24.
Distribution of powers between the federal and the state governments recognised as the federating units has been overwhelmingly weighted in favour of the Federal Government, leaving the states helpless on some germane issues.
Items such as taxation of incomes, railway, police, public holidays, stamp duties, resource mining and 62 others are reserved only for the Federal Government in the constitution. The legal icon, however, said the final decision on the constitution review exercise rests on the National Assembly as he and other consultants could only make recommendations distilled from the submitted memoranda.
He chided the state governors for not exercising to the fullness, the limited powers the constitution, however imperfect it is, gives to them. For instance, he said states are empowered to generate as little as five megawatts of electricity to catalyse the industrialisaiton of their areas without waiting for the Federal Government.
On the arrest of the Yoruba Nation campaigner, My Sunday Adeyemo, popularly called Sunday Igboho, he cautioned government against demonising Igboho, saying no criminal charges have been preferred against him in any court in the country.
He stressed that the travail of Igboho remains the travail of every Yoruba person, saying his campaign for Yoruba self-determination is lawful under the Geneva Convention of 1949. He lampooned officials of the Department of State Service (SSS) over the Gestapo manner they invaded Igboho’s residence on July 1, saying they have shot themselves in the foot. By allegedly blocking the CCTV cameras at his residence during the night raid, the DSS also blocked evidence to support its claim that the guns paraded alongside the 12 arrested aides of the Yoruba Nation agitator were actually kept by him.
Asked why the Yoruba intelligentsia have not been speaking on the ordeal of Igboho at the hands of the Federal Government, he said the struggle by Igboho, though legitimate, lacks the requisite intellectual flavour.
He added that although the Yoruba elite were initially avoiding being blackmailed, they are now working underground to help Igboho out of his present condition. He gave examples of freedom fighters like Nelson Mandela who were vilified by authorities in their countries but later became national heroes, assuring the Yoruba people that Igboho would not be abandoned in his hour of need.